Traffic trouble predicted in coming years as more cars cram Colorado roads

6:19 AM, Feb 10, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - If you think the traffic on your way to work is bad right now, the experts say it's only getting worse.

The number of cars on Colorado roads is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years.

That will likely mean more traffic jams and more pollution.

Drivers can help prevent those problems by embracing public transit and carpooling.

It's easy to see why people like driving alone, especially on the way to work.

"I think it's important to drive alone before you go to work because it just gives you an opportunity to reflect on what you're about to do," Denver resident Kaylee Felet said.

The Denver Regional Council of Governments says 14 million motor vehicle trips are made each day in the metro area.

People drive to work alone 74 percent of the time.

DRCOG Communications Director Steve Erickson says Single Occupant Vehicles, or SOV's, pose a big problem.

"For us this is very much a quality of life issue. Delays in traffic, it's time wasted, it's extra gas burned," Erickson said.

Experts are predicting a 60-percent increase in traffic by 2035 on already crowded Colorado roads.

"Imagine what that would look like if we had 60 percent more vehicles on the road," Erickson said.

Erickson says drivers would experience more snarls, congestion, and traffic jams.

"It would just mean more hours in traffic every day," Erickson said.

Each year, the average driver already wastes 100 hours just sitting in traffic.

A new program called Way to Go is trying to convince Colorado drivers to consider alternatives to driving alone.

Car pools, public transit, or even biking to work can save you big money.

"Thousands and thousands of dollars every year," Erickson said.

If you must drive alone, there are ways to save like grouping your trips.

"I will go, not only to work, but at the same time I'll try and make another stop on the way," Denver resident Mark Kramer said.

Cutting down on solo driving will also help cut down on problems like air pollution, like Denver's infamous brown cloud.

"[Riding public transit] saves the environment and also saves money," said Denver resident Abraham McKinney as he waited for the bus Saturday.

As the metro area's population grows from 2.3 million today to 4 million people by 2035, the issue of solo commuting becomes even more urgent.

Experts say car pooling or taking public transit just twice a week can make a big difference.

A survey by the Downtown Denver Partnership shows people who work in downtown Denver are almost seven times more likely to use public transit than people commuting in and out of the city.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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